Why you should consider hiring a personal trainer.

Exercise is one of the pillars of heart disease prevention. But at some point, you may need help shoring up your workout habits. Maybe you exercise only in fits and starts, without sticking to a regular routine. Or perhaps you’re in a rut, doing the same old 30-minute trudge on the treadmill every day.

Another possibility: You have a health condition (such as high blood pressure or arthritis) or another physical problem (an old knee or back injury, for example) that makes you hesitant to exercise. For all of these reasons and more, hiring a personal trainer can be a sound investment.

Good form is key

“Probably the most important role of personal trainer is to teach proper form during exercise,” says Vijay A. Daryanani, a physical therapist and certified personal trainer with Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Outpatient Center. Good form means not only correct posture and body mechanics as you move, but also when and how to breathe, he adds.

Many people who exercise in gyms don’t get any formal instruction about how to use the machines, says Daryanani. “Movement of any type is great. But if you let a professional show you the right technique for different exercises, you’ll get a more balanced workout that’s at the right level for your ability,” he says.

Some people take a brisk walk every day but avoid doing any strength-building exercises. Other people have completely opposite tendencies. But a balanced workout includes not just cardio and strength work, but also exercises to improve your balance and flexibility, as well as moves that boost your stamina. A varied routine can help prevent overuse injuries, stave off boredom, and improve your ability to do other activities, from carrying groceries to swinging a tennis racquet or golf club.

In addition to creating your individualized routine, a personal trainer can boost motivation and confidence. “People don’t always like to push beyond their comfort zone. I try to empower them to try new exercises, but always at an appropriate level,” says Daryanani.

Breathing lessons

Paying attention to your breathing can help, especially during heart-pumping aerobic activity. A trainer can help ensure that you’re pacing yourself at the correct intensity level — not too easy but not too hard.

Your blood pressure can rise if you hold your breath as you do strength exercises. So it’s important to exhale as you lift, push, or pull; inhale as you release. You can tell if you’re using too much weight if you get stuck in the middle of a lift or find yourself grunting with effort. To stay in a safe zone, reduce the amount of weight you’re lifting.

If you have arthritis or a muscle or joint injury, a good trainer can suggest modifications or alternative exercises that won’t exacerbate the issue. For instance, there are many different abdominal exercises that don’t put any strain on the lower back. And you don’t necessarily need to get down on the floor to stretch the muscles in your legs and buttocks.

Some gyms and fitness centers have personal trainers on staff or hire them as contractors. But many will come to your house and can devise an at-home workout plan for you, even if you don’t own any machines or special equipment, Daryanani says. See “Choosing a personal trainer” for advice.

Choosing a personal trainer: What to look forFirst, make sure your trainer is accredited by one or more of these organizations:American Council on Exercise (ACE)American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)Ask about the person’s training background, experience working with clients your age, and approach to designing client programs. Finally, ask for references, especially from clients like you. Sign up for a few sessions at first to gauge how well you and the trainer work together before you commit to something longer. Prices vary widely, depending on where you live and possible gym affiliations. The cost ranges anywhere from $60 to $120 per hour. You might be able to save a little money by hiring a trainer to do small group sessions with you and one or several of your friends who have similar fitness levels and goals.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16 NIV

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2 NIV

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 NIV

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 NIV

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. Ephesians 3:16-17 NIV

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13  NIV

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Romans 12:9 NIV

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV

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